Investigators wrap up case of Bedouin teacher shot dead by cops
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Investigators wrap up case of Bedouin teacher shot dead by cops

Justice Ministry hands files to state prosecution for decision on deadly events during which officer was run over and killed

Israeli police stand next to a vehicle that rammed into police officers in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, January 18, 2017. (Israel Police)
Israeli police stand next to a vehicle that rammed into police officers in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, January 18, 2017. (Israel Police)

The Justice Ministry reportedly concluded its reexamination into the police shooting of a Bedouin teacher during an operation to demolish homes in his unrecognized village at the beginning of the year, and handed its report to the state prosecution on Thursday.

The state now must decide whether to close the case or summon additional officers for questioning, Hadashot news reported.

The findings were transferred to the attorney general and the state’s attorney, who have not yet given a final decision on whether to press charges.

Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an (Courtesy)

In November, in light of the evidence, the ministry’s Police Investigations Department was told to take another look at the events surrounding the death of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, who was slain by police in Umm al-Hiran during a nighttime incident in which his car drove into officers, killing one of them.

The incident was initially described by police as terrorism, but authorities have indicated since that Abu Al-Qia’an likely lost control of the vehicle after being shot and did not intentionally hit the officers.

A six-month probe by the PID concluded in August there was no indication that the officers had acted criminally in shooting Abu Al-Qia’an.

The new evidence reportedly concerned the shots that killed Abu Al-Qia’an and a sponge-tipped bullet that allegedly injured MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint (Arab) List parliamentary faction, who was injured during protests against the January 18 home demolitions.

Police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was killed in an alleged car-ramming attack at Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Courtesy)

The incident took place in the early morning of January 18 when police arrived to oversee the demolition of homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village, which the state was seeking to remove in order to clear the way for a new Jewish town.

As officers converged on Umm al-Hiran, Abu Al-Qia’an, 47, a teacher and father of 12, packed a few belongings into his SUV and drove from his house, telling friends that he did not wish to witness its destruction. Soon afterward, the vehicle with Abu Al-Qia’an at the wheel rammed into a group of officers, killing 1st Sgt. Erez Levi. 34. Abu Al-Qia’an was fatally shot by police.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and the police asserted that Abu Al-Qia’an was a terrorist inspired by the Islamic State group who was shot after intentionally ramming his vehicle into the officers.

The charge was vehemently denied by his family, who argued that he was shot before his car sped up, leading him to lose control of the vehicle.

Activists and others said police had used excessive force, pointing to what they claimed was institutionalized racism against Arabs, including Bedouin.

Arab Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh was injured during a protest against house demolitions in the Negev town of Umm al-Hiran on January 18, 2017. Here he is holding the sponge-tipped bullet that allegedly injured him. (Courtesy/Arab Joint List)

In November Zehava Galon, the Meretz party leader who recently resigned her parliamentary seat, told Channel 10 that police were trying to cover up what really happened.

“The police did everything so that the truth won’t come out,” she said.

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